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  • jamie
    Hello everyone, it seems the old guard of this list have moved off to other things, new inspiration perhaps, new trials, new lives...and here I am continuing
    Message 1 of 55 , Nov 8, 2003
      Hello everyone, it seems the old guard of this list have moved off to other
      things, new inspiration perhaps, new trials, new lives...and here I am
      continuing ever deeper into the forest along the path Fukuoka developed,
      still hoping to encounter the clearing in which I too can become

      So, to the ever growing and ever more silent memebers of this list, I offer
      you this excellent introduction into Fukuoka's 'Do-Nothing'(Buddhist
      Wei-Wu-Wei), that you might also discover the rewards of the path and join
      me where ever it might lead...I include it entire because the web link
      http://sino-sv3.sino.uni-heidelberg.de/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/loy3.htm is somewhat
      temperamental (although if you get access you'll discover much of interest
      for where East meets West if you can get to the parent directory)


      "Wei-wu-wei: Nondual action" by David Loy philosophy east and west vol. 35,
      no. 1(January 1985)

      ... at the still point, there the dance is,
      But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it
      Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement
      from nor towards,
      Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point,
      the still point,
      There would be no dance, and there is only the

      T. S. Eliot(1)

      Wei-wu-wei, "the action of nonaction, " is the
      central paradox of Taoism and as a concept is second
      in importance only to the Tao itself, which
      incorporates it; Lao Tzu describes the
      action/nonaction of someone who has realized the Tao
      as wu-wei:

      ....Thus, the wise man deals with things through
      wu-wei and teaches through no-words.

      The ten thousand things flourish without
      They grow by themselves, and no one possesses them.
      (Chapter 2)(2)

      The highest attainment is wu-wei and is purposeless
      (Chapter 38)

      When wu-wei is done, nothing is left undone.
      (Chapter 48)

      The other paradoxes of Taoism would seem to be
      derived from wu-wei, unless it is a coincidence that
      they are susceptible to expression in the same form:
      "the morality of no morality," "the knowledge of no
      knowledge," and so forth. As a paradox, wei-wu-wei
      is perhaps even more difficult to understand than
      the unconceptualizable Tao itself. In philosophy,
      discretion may be too much the better part of
      valor--this is apparently why Arthur Waley, in a
      long introduction to his translation of the Lao-tzu,
      discusses the concepts of Tao, t^e, ch'i, i,
      yin-yang, the five elements, and Taoist yoga, yet
      defines wu-wei only in an unedifying footnote to
      chapter 3 of the text: "`non-activity', i.e. rule
      through t^e ('virtue', 'power') acquired in
      trance."(3) But explanations of wei-wu-wei have
      otherwise not been lacking. In Part One I shall
      consider a number of such interpretations and argue
      that they are incomplete without the more radical
      understanding of wu-wei as nondual action--that is,
      action in which there is no bifurcation between
      subject and object: no awareness of an agent that is
      believed to do the action as being distinct from an
      objective action that is done. This is not to claim
      that nondual action is the only meaning, of
      wei-wu-wei. It may be a mistake to assume that any
      one particular interpretation must be the meaning of
      wu-wei, for here we may have a case of what
      Wittgenstein called "family resemblances": Rather
      than any one characteristic being common to all
      instances, there are various overlapping
      characteristics. In Part Two I make comparisons with
      some recent analytic work in the philosophy of mind
      and argue that, contrary to first appearances, its
      conclusions are consistent with and even support the
      claim that action can be nondual.



      (1) The simplest interpretation of wei-wu-wei is
      that it means doing nothing, or as little as
      possible. This may be understood either politically
      or metaphysically/personally. The political
      interpretation sees wu-wei as "the main precept
      behind the Lao Tzu's conception of government as the
      minimum amount of external interference projected
      onto the individual from those in power combined
      with an environment most conducive to the
      individual's quest for personal fulfillment."(4) If
      one leaves the people alone and lets them get on
      with it, social problems will resolve
      themselves--perhaps because political interference
      is more often the cause of such problems than their
      solution, as was certainly the case during the
      Warring States period. Such an interpretation of
      wu-wei is often part of a more general political
      interpretation of Taoism, which, it has been
      recognized, fits the Lao-tzu better than the
      Chuang-tzu.(5) This view of wu-weiis also consistent
      with the sole recorded reference to wu-wei by

      The Master said, "If anyone could be said to have
      affected proper order while remaining inactive
      (wu-wei), it was Shun. What was there for him to do?
      He simply made himself respectful and took up his
      position facing due south."(6)

      By regulating his own conduct so that it reflects
      the moral order, the Confucian ruler sets a positive
      example and is thus able to influence his
      subordinates without coercing them. But this does
      not necessarily imply wu-wei toward the people
      generally. The emphasis in Confucianism is that the
      king reigns but does not rule. In the ideal
      administration, the ruler does not personally attend
      to matters of government but depends upon the
      charismatic influence of his virtue (te); there does
      not seem to be the further implication that the
      king's ministers do not need to act. The emphasis in
      Taoism shifts from this need for a personal example
      to an anarchism which allows all social and
      political organization to be consistent with the
      Tao.(7) The problem in either case is much the same.
      Despite the hopes of utopians and economic
      conservatives, neither is very practicable. Perhaps
      such government might work in an unthreatened
      traditional society, but I do not see how it could
      be successful in the cutthroat Warring States period
      nor, given its complexity and rapid transformation,
      in our contemporary interdependent world. Insofar as
      the meaning of wu-wei is political nonaction, it
      seems to have little relevance for us today--perhaps
      unfortunately, if the implication is that modern
      society cannot harmonize with the Tao.

      The personal interpretation of wei-wu-wei as
      literally "doing nothing" does not fare much better,
      and in fact this view does not seem to have been
      very common. In his commentary on the Chuang-tzu,
      Kuo Hsiang criticized it: "Hearing the theory of wu
      wei, some people think that lying down is better
      than walking. These people are far wrong in
      understanding the ideas of Chuang Tzu."(8)
      Nevertheless, Fung Yu-lan, after quoting this, went
      on to add: "despite this criticism, it would seem
      that in their understanding of Chuang Tzu such


      people were not far wrong."(9) This probably reveals
      more about Fung than Chuang Tzu, but I think that
      Fung is not completely wrong. In fact, such a
      reading is consistent with the nondual
      interpretation, which I shall offer later, in that
      complete "not acting" requires eliminating the
      sense-of-self which is inclined to interfere.
      Noninterference is not really possible unless one
      has dissipated the fog of expectations and desires
      that keeps one from experiencing the world as it is
      in itself (Tao), and the judgment that "something
      must be done" is usually part of that fog. Josh
      Billings said he was an old man and had had lots of
      troubles---most of which never happened. Many,
      perhaps most, of our problems originate in our own
      minds, in an anxiety which is projected outward into
      the environment.

      What might be seen as a corollary of "doing
      nothing" is knowing when to stop. Chapter 77 of the
      Lao-tzu compares the course of nature to a bow:
      "That which is at the top is pulled down; that which
      is at the bottom is brought up. That which is
      overfull is reduced; that which is deficient is
      supplemented." Thus the man who abides in the Tao
      never wants to reach an extreme and, knowing the
      right time to stop, is free from danger (chapters 15
      and 44). Nature, here including man, is a succession
      of alternations: when one extreme is reached a
      reversal occurs (chapter 40), as with such natural
      phenomena as day-night and summer-winter--which
      insight was later elaborated into the complexities
      of the Yin-Yang school.

      (2) A more common interpretation of wei-wu-wei sees
      it as action which does not force but yields. Rather
      than being a version of doing nothing, this might be
      called "the action of passivity." Under the weight
      of a heavy snowfall, pine branches break off, but by
      bending, the willow can drop its burden and spring
      up again. Chuang Tzu gives the example of the
      intoxicated man who is not killed when he falls out
      of his carriage because he does not resist the fall.
      This would seem to be an argument for alcoholism,
      but no: "If such integrity of the spirit can be got
      from wine, how much greater must be the integrity
      that is got from Heaven."(10) So wu-wei is a
      recommendation to be soft and yielding, as Lao Tzu's
      favorite metaphor water. Often the character joh(a)
      is translated as "weakness,"(11) but "weakness" has
      unavoidably negative connotations which do not seem
      right in this context--especially since joh is
      usually (but not always: for example, chapters 8 and
      66) a means to conquer in the end. It is because
      water is the softest and most yielding thing that it
      is able to overcome the hard and strong.

      An apparent corollary of this (parallel to the
      corollary mentioned earlier) is that a very slight
      action may be enough to have extraordinary results,
      if done at the right time. This is "contemplating
      the difficult with the easy, working on the great
      with the small" (chapter 63). In particular, one
      should deal with potentially big problems before
      they become big (chapter 64); the growth of the
      sapling is easy to affect, but not that of a mature
      tree. Both of these points seem undeniable, if
      limited, truisms; the challenge is knowing when and
      how to apply them.


      (3) Probably the most common interpretation of
      wei-wu-wei is action that is natural. Creel quotes
      several examples:

      The natural is sufficient. If one strives, he fails.

      Wang Pi(12)

      (The Taoist saint) chooses this attitude in the
      conviction that only by so doing the 'natural'
      development of things will favour him.


      According to the theory of "having-no-activity", a
      man should restrict his activities to what is
      necessary and what is natural. "Necessary means
      necessary to the achievement of a certain purpose,
      and never over-doing. "Natural" means following
      one's Te with no arbitrary effort.

      Fung Yu-lan(14)

      The problem with such explanations is that they do
      not explain very much. As Creel asks, how can we
      distinguish natural from unnatural action? The term
      is so pliable that it ends up meaning whatever one
      wants it to mean--as all those who read the
      ingredients in "natural food" products know. Fung's
      use of "arbitrary" just pushes the question one step
      back--how do we distinguish arbitrary from not
      arbitrary? And is not the passing of such dualistic
      judgments condemned in Taoist literature?(15) Wang
      Pi equates the natural with not striving, and others
      with not making willful effort,(16) but this, too,
      begs the question unless some criterion is offered
      for distinguishing willful from nonwillful action;
      otherwise we are left, like Fung, lying down. One
      suggested criterion is spontaneity,(17) but at best
      that can be only a necessary and not a sufficient
      condition: The anger I spontaneously feel when
      someone steps on my toe, or runs off with my wife,
      is not necessarily a case of wu-wei.

      None of the preceding is a refutation of the
      view that wei-wu-wei is natural, nonwillful action,
      and so forth. The problem is rather that such
      descriptions do not in themselves go far enough; but
      allied with the proper criterion they may be
      valuable. In fact, the concept of nondual action
      that I shall offer can be seen as such a criterion.
      The root irruption of the natural order of things is
      man's self-consciousness, and the return to Tao is
      conversely a realization of the ground of one's
      being--including one's own consciousness. If
      consciousness of self is the ultimate source of
      unnatural action, then natural action must be that
      in which there is no such self-consciousness--in
      which there is no awareness of the agent as being
      distinct from "his" act.

      (4) The main problem with understanding wei-wu-wer
      is that it is a genuine paradox: the union of two
      contradictory concepts--action ("...nothing remains
      undone") and nonaction ("nothing is done..."). The
      resolution of this paradox must somehow combine both
      concepts, but how this can be anything other than a
      contradiction in terms is difficult to understand.
      So it is not surprising that some scholars have
      concluded that it is an unresolvable con-


      tradiction. Creel, for example, decided that this
      greatest Taoist paradox was probably unintentional,
      due to the juxtaposition of two different aspects in
      early Taoism: an original "contemplative aspect" and
      a subsequent "purposive aspect." The first denotes
      "an attitude of genuine non-action, motivated by a
      lack of desire to participate in the struggle of
      human affairs," while the second is "a technique by
      means of which one who practices it may gain
      enhanced control over human affairs."(18) The former
      is merely passive (hence "nonaction"), the latter is
      an attempt to act in and reform the world
      ("action"), and, as Creel emphasizes, these are not
      only different but "logically and essentially they
      are incompatible."(19) Creel admits that this
      interpretation is not to be found within the Taoist
      texts themselves, and recognizes that this puts him
      in the awkward position of claiming that the
      Chuang-tzu (more contemplative) is earlier than the
      compilation of the Lao-tzu (more purposive).(20)
      What is worse, he must acknowledge that "we find
      'contemplative' Taoism and 'purposive' Taoism lying
      cheek by jowl, and sometimes scrambled in a grand
      mixture, in the Lao Tzu and the Chuang Tzu," but he
      tries to justify this by saying that men are seldom
      wholly governed by logic.(21) I think that the
      problem is rather that, because Creel here is wholly
      governed by logic, he misses the fact that the
      paradox is resolved by a particular experience--the
      realization of Tao--which cannot be understood so
      logically. As with the Vedaantic realization of
      Brahman and the Buddhist attainment of nirvaa.na,
      this experience is nondual in the sense that there
      is no differentiation between subject and object,
      between self and world. The implication of this for
      action is that there is no longer any bifurcation
      between an agent, the self that is believed to do
      the action, and the objective action that is done.
      As usually understood, "action" requires an agent
      that is active; "nonaction" implies a subject that
      is passive, which does nothing and/oryields. The
      "action of non-action" occurs when there is no "I"
      to be either active or passive, which is an
      experience that can be expressed only paradoxically.
      The simpler interpretations of wu-wei as
      noninterference and yielding view not-acting as a
      kind of action; nondual action reverses this and
      sees nonaction---that which does not change--in the

      That wei-wu-wei means nondual action is
      suggested in the Chuang-tzu, although not so much by
      the context of its references to wu-wei as by its
      description of another, very similar, paradox. In
      contrast to the twelve instances of wu-wei in the
      Lao-tzu, there are some fifty-six occurrences in the
      Chuang-tzu but only three of these occur in the
      seven "inner chapters."(22) It is significant that
      two of these clearly describe more than
      noninterference or yielding:

      Now you have a large tree and are anxious about its
      uselessness. why do you not plant it in the domain
      of non-existence, in a wide and barren wild? By its
      side you may wander in nonaction (wu-wei); under it
      you may sleep in happiness.(23)

      Tao has reality and evidence, but no action (wu-wei)
      or form.(24)

      Unconsciously they stroll beyond the dirty world and
      wander in the realm of nonaction (wu-wei).(25)


      But more important is the paradox we find in chapter
      six, where Nu Chu teaches the Tao to Pu Liang I:

      ...Having disregarded his own existence, he (Pu
      Liang I) was enlightened... gained vision of the One
      ... was able to transcend the distinction of past
      and present... was able to enter the realm where
      life and death are no more. Then, to him, the
      destruction of life did not mean death, nor the
      prolongation of life an addition to the duration of
      his existence. He would follow anything; he would
      receive anything. To him, everything was in
      destruction, everything was in construction. This is
      called tranquillity-in-disturbance. Tranquillity in
      disturbance means perfection.(26)

      Here "tranquillity in disturbance" (or
      "Peace-in-Strife"(27) ) cannot mean a lack of
      activity. Rather, there is a sense of unchanging
      peace in the midst of continual
      destruction-and-construction-that is, ceaseless
      transformation, which activity includes his own.
      This is possible only because Pu Liang I first
      "disregarded his own existence, " hence the
      overcoming of the duality of self and nonself and
      "gaining vision of the One."

      It is significant that one finds the same
      paradox in other Asian traditions which maintain the
      nonduality of subject and object. Not surprisingly,
      it is most common in Chinese Buddhism, where Taoist
      influence is to be expected. However, that
      wei-wu-wei is a paradoxical synthesis of nonaction
      in action is more clearly recognized in Buddhism.
      Seng Chao maintained in the Chao Lun that action and
      nonaction are not exclusive: Things in action are at
      the same time always in nonaction; things in
      nonaction are always in action.(28) This claim is
      expounded in the first chapter, "On the Immutability
      of Things," but the point is important enough to be
      repeated in chapter four, "Nirvana is Nameless":
      "Through non-action, movement is always quiescent.
      Through action, everything is acted upon, means that
      quiescence is always in motion."(29) One of the
      earliest Ch'an texts, the Hsin Hsin Ming of the
      third patriarch Seng-ts'an, states twice that the
      awakened mind transcends the duality of rest and
      nonrest,(30) echoing the argument of Naagaarjuna
      that both motion and rest are incomprehensible and
      hence unreal (`suunya).(31) Probably the best-known
      example, definitely not derived from Taoism, is
      found in a passage from the Bhagavadgiitaa which
      explicitly describes action which is yet no action:

      He who in action sees inaction and action in
      inaction--he is wise among men, he is a yogin, and
      he has accomplished all his work.

      Having abandoned attachment to the fruit of
      works, ever content, without any kind of dependence,
      he does nothing though he is ever engaged in work.
      (IV, 18, 20)(32)

      The Sanskrit word for action, karman, suggests an
      interpretation of these verses which sees them as
      recommending action that does not bring karmic
      results. In answer to the Buddhist and Yogic
      emphasis on withdrawal from the world of social
      obligation, the Giitaa claims that action too may
      lead to Krishna because no karman accrues if an act
      is performed "without attachment to the fruit of


      action." This does not disagree with a nondual
      interpretation of these verses, but supplements it.
      Lao Tzu, Seng Chao, and the Giitaa may be seen to be
      describing different aspects of the same experience
      of nondual action. The difference between the first
      two is in which half of the dualism of agent <->
      action is eliminated. The Taoist wei-wu-wei is the
      denial of an objective action, that I perform some
      action. The Buddhist concept of anatta and the "no
      mind" of Ch'an emphasize the denial of an agent,
      that I perform some action. But to deny a subjective
      agent or to deny an objective action amounts to the
      same thing, since each half of the polarity is
      dependent upon the other. The importance of the
      Giitaa passage is that it implies how this
      bifurcation occurs. The sense of dualism arises
      because action is done with reference to the fruit
      of action; that is, because an act is performed with
      some goal or aim in mind: I do an action in order to
      gain some particular result. The Giitaa may be
      understood either more narrowly as proscribing
      selfish action in favor of work "for the maintenance
      of the world," or more broadly as showing the
      problem with all intentional action. The Buddhist
      concept of karman, which emphasizes intention, is
      another expression of the broader view: Although
      "good actions" may lead to pleasurable rebirth in
      the deva realm, that is still sa^msaara. One must
      act in such a way as to escape both good and bad
      karmic consequences. Both good and bad karmic acts
      originate from dualism: In the former case, the self
      manipulates the world for its own advantage; in the
      latter case, the self consciously works for the
      benefit of something or someone else. The only way
      to transcend the dualism of self and other is to act
      without intention-that is, without attachment to a
      projected goal to be obtained from the action--in
      which case the agent is the act. It is attachment to
      and identification with thought (that is, the
      projected goal) which gives rise to a sense of
      duality between the mind that intends and the body
      that is used to attain the intended result.

      But how does the nonduality of agent and act
      resolve the paradox of "the action of nonaction"?
      One may accept the negation of a subject, in which
      case the action cannot be something "objective," yet
      there is still an action. The answer is that, when
      one completely becomes an action, one loses the
      sense that it is an action.

      ....For an action of the whole being does away with
      all partial actions and thus also with all
      sensations of action (which depend entirely on the
      limited nature of actions)--and hence it comes to
      resemble passivity.

      This is the activity of the human being who has
      become whole: it has been called not-doing, for
      nothing particular, nothing partial is at work in
      man and thus nothing of him intrudes into the world.


      As long as there is the sense of an agent
      distinct from the action, the act can be only
      "partial" and there is the sensation of action due
      to the relation between them. Only in nondual action
      can there be no sense of an ego-consciousness
      outside the action, for otherwise there is a
      perspective from which an act is


      observed to occur (or not occur). When one is the
      action, no residue of self-consciousness remains to
      observe that action objectively. The sense of wu-wei
      is that of a quiet center which does not change
      although activity constantly occurs, as in Chuang
      Tzu's "Tranquillity-in-Disturbance."

      Such an action can be experienced as nondual
      only if it is complete and whole in itself. It must
      not be related to anything else, for such relating
      is an act of thought, which shows that there is
      thinking as well as acting and the action is only
      "partial." If the nondual act is complete in itself
      and does not refer to something else, it turns out
      to be meaningless: that is, it simply is what it is
      (tathataa) . This pinpoints the problem with
      intention, since it is the reference to some goal to
      be derived from the act that gives the act meaning.
      In contrast, the daanapaaramitaa of Mahaayaana is
      generosity in which the giver, the gift, and the
      recipient are all realized to be empty (`suunya):
      "Here a Bodhisattva gives a gift, and he does not
      apprehend a self, a recipient, a gift; also no
      reward of his giving."(34) Such "giving Of
      no-giving" (as it might be termed) can be done
      "without leaning on something" because there is no
      intention tied to it. The best giving, like the best
      action generally, is "free from traces," in which
      case there is not even the sense that it is a gift.

      Nondual action seems effortless because there is
      not the duality of one part of oneself pushing
      another part--in the case of physical activity, of
      an "I" which needs to exert itself in order to get
      the muscles to move. Rather, "I" am the muscles.
      This gives insight into a number of Zen koans such
      as the following:

      Master Shogen said, "Why is it that a man of
      great strength cannot lift up his legs?"

      And he also said, "We do not use the tongue to
      speak." (Or: "It is not the tongue that we speak

      This amounts to a denial of the mind-body dualism.
      However, this is not materialism or behaviorism.
      Rather than negating the psyche, the implication is
      that the body itself is wholly psychic. The
      Praj~naapaaramitaa Heart Suutra states that one who
      has realized the emptiness of all things acts freely
      because he is "without hindrance in the mind."
      Clearly this is one way in which mental events
      interfere with nondual action, by sometimes keeping
      one's physical actions from occurring naturally and
      spontaneously according to the situation. The
      nondual "psychic body," which knows how to react
      perfectly well by itself, suffers a kind of
      paralysis due to psychological "hindrances." Asian
      martial arts usually include some meditation in
      their training in order to avoid this, so students
      can react spontaneously to attack without being
      paralyzed by fear and without needing to deliberate

      However, the problem with dualistic action is
      not just "hindrance in the mind" but intention in

      Cultivation is of no use for the attainment of Tao.
      The only thing that one can do is to be free from
      defilement. When one's mind is stained with thoughts
      of life and


      death, or deliberate action, that is defilement. The
      grasping of the Truth is the function of
      everyday-mindedness. Everyday-mindedness is free
      from intentional action, free from concepts of right
      and wrong, taking and giving, the finite and the
      infinite.... All our daily activities--walking,
      standing, sitting, lying down--all response to
      situations, our dealing with circumstances as they
      arise: all this is Tao.

      Ordinary mind is the Tao(37) because, when they are
      free from intentional action, daily activities are
      realized to be nondual. This gives insight into how
      the "mindfulness of body" described in the
      Satipa.t.thaana Suutra, and Theravaada vipassana
      practice in general, might function: In the slow
      "walking meditation" of vipassana, for example, one
      "lets go" of all intentions by concentrating on the
      act of walking itself. This also explains why those
      Zen koans which ask "Why...?" never receive a
      straight answer. "Unmon said, 'The world is vast and
      wide like this. Why do we put on our seven-panel
      robe at the sound of the bell? '"(38) From a
      contemporary Zen master's commentary on this case:

      ...Some of you are familiar with the last line of
      the mealtime sutra, "We and this food and our eating
      are equally empty." If you can acknowledge this
      fact, you will realize that when you put on your
      robe, there is no reason or "why" in it.... There is
      no reason for the "why" in anything! When we stand
      up, there is no reason "why". We just stand up! When
      we eat, we just eat without any reason "why". When
      we put on the kesa (seven-panel robe), we just put
      it on. Our life is a continuous just... just...

      This passage clarifies what "intentionless activity"
      means. From the usual perspective, it seems
      impossible to avoid intentions. We eat to satisfy
      our hunger, for example, and even taking a walk can
      be seen to have a purpose such as to relax. But the
      claim just presented is that even now actions of
      ours like dressing and eating are not purposive.
      "Intentionless activity" does not mean merely random
      and spontaneous action, but involves realizing the
      distinction between thought (the intention) and the
      action. The thought (for example, "time to eat") is
      whole and complete in itself; the act (eating) is
      also whole and complete in itself. It is when the
      two are not experienced wholly and discretely but
      only in relation to each other, the first as if
      "superimposed" upon the second, that action seems
      intentional and therefore dualistic, and there is
      the sense of an agent/mind that uses the act/body
      for the sake of....

      In answer to such stock questions as "Why did
      Bodhidharma come from the West?" Zen masters such as
      Ma-tsu, Huang Po, and Lin-chi were apt to strike the
      student or shout in his ear. If the Tao is
      nonintentional, everyday-mind, such responses were
      not evasive. They were answers to the question,
      demonstrations of "why"--examples of nondual action,
      each of which is complete in itself.

      One day the world-honoured one (Sakyamuni Buddha)
      ascended his seat. Manjusri struck the gavel and
      said, "Clearly behold the Dharma of the King of the
      Dharma; the Dharma of the King of the Dharma is
      `just this'."(40)



      Recent Western work in the philosophy of mind has
      developed the view that the continuity of
      consciousness is maintained not by memory, as the
      earlier empiricists believed, but by the stream of
      intentional action. Stuart Hampshire, for example,
      maintains this in Thought and Action:

      British empiricists since Hume have tried, to
      their own dissatisfaction, to represent the
      continuity of a person's consciousness as some
      binding thread of memory running through the
      separate data of consciousness. But within the
      trajectory of an action, with its guiding intention,
      there is already a continuity through change, and,
      if it is true that a conscious person is necessarily
      engaged upon some action, however trivial, this
      known continuity is interrupted only by sleep and by
      other forms of unconsciousness.... I do distinguish
      myself, as the inner core that is the source of
      directed effort, from all my passing states, and it
      is this sense of myself as the source of meaningful
      action that gives me the sense of my continuity from
      the present into the future.(41)

      ...a conscious mind is always and necessarily
      envisaging possibilities of action, of finding means
      towards ends, as a body is always and necessarily
      occupying a certain position. To be a conscious
      human being, and therefore a thinking being, is to
      have intentions and plans, to be trying to bring
      about a certain effect. We are therefore always
      actively following what is happening now as leading
      into what is to happen next. Because intentional
      action is ineliminable from our notion of
      experience, so also is temporal order.(42)

      This seems to contradict what has been
      maintained in the first part of this article, but it
      need not. If we take the "conscious mind" of the
      second passage to mean "consciousness (or awareness)
      of self," then this view about the relation between
      "the sense of myself" and intentional action is
      consistent with what was claimed earlier. The only
      significant difference is that, because Hampshire
      believes intentional action to be "ineliminable from
      our notion of experience," he does not envision the
      possibility of nondual action as a result of
      eliminating "the source of directed effort." If
      intentional action were eliminable, then the
      implication of Hampshire's position is that this
      would also eliminate the sense of self. Hampshire is
      wrong when he claims that "a conscious mind is
      always and necessarily envisaging possibilities of
      action, " for there is the counter-example of
      meditation--an example very much to the point, since
      it is generally agreed to be a very important part,
      and perhaps the most important part, of the path for
      those who wish to experience nonduality. It maybe
      objected that in meditation, too, one has intentions
      and makes efforts to concentrate on something, but
      this is not the case in the deeper stages of
      meditation, for in samaadhi the sense of self
      evaporates, and precisely because all effort and
      intention cease. Hampshire's account seems valid as
      an explanation of the usual dualistic way of
      understanding experience, but it does not amount to
      a critique of nonduality. On the contrary, if one
      accepts (as Hampshire certainly would not) a
      distinction between sense-of-self and nondual
      consciousness, and takes his view as referring to
      the former, then his accountt would agree with the
      first part of this article in explaining the
      difference between dualistic and nondual
      consciousness as due to


      intentionality. Hampshire's position is even implied
      by this account of nondual action, for his is a
      description of why experience seems to be dualistic.

      There is still a serious problem with
      Hampshire's account. His explanation of the
      continuity of consciousness as due to intentionality
      takes for granted what we usually cannot help but
      take for granted, some sort of causal relationship
      between intentions and actions. However, Hume
      pointed out, as a corollary to his critique of the
      causal relation, that no one can hope to understand
      how volition produces motion in our limbs: "That
      their motion follows the command of the will is a
      matter of common experience, like other natural
      events: but the power or energy by which this is
      effected, like that in other natural events, is
      unknown and inconceivable."(43) In other words, the
      relationship between intention and action, which
      normally we readily accept, is really
      incomprehensible. The implication of this is that
      intentionality--the sense of myself as the source of
      meaningful action, to use Hampshire's words--cannot
      provide my continuity through change, for that
      continuity between guiding intention and an action
      is itself philosophically inexplicable. One might be
      inclined to say that it is only consciousness which
      can bridge the gap; however, one then has not
      explained the continuity of consciousness but merely
      postulated it ad hoc to resolve the difficulty.

      This is a problem for those who, like Hampshire,
      presuppose a dualistic account of experience and
      therefore must attribute some type of reality to
      "the sense of myself"--thus reifying consciousness
      into a self, in effect. But having accepted Hume's
      critique, one cannot thereafter bring the self back
      in through the backdoor, as it were, as "continuity
      of consciousness." This inexplicable relation
      between intention and action is not a problem for
      the nondualist, who accepts that the consciousness
      of self is actually illusory and agrees that a
      fictive self has been postulated in order to bridge
      the "gap." The nondualist can accept this "gap"
      between thoughts and action--in fact he can deny any
      causal link--and this is why all actions are always
      nondual, even when not realized as such.

      Hampshire might try to bridge that gap between
      thought and action by agreeing on the one hand that
      the relation is incomprehensible yet asserting on
      the other that, as we experience in daily life, it
      is undeniable; as Hume said, "That their motion
      follows the command of the will is a matter of
      common experience...." But that this is undeniable
      is by no means true, as the history of the mind-body
      problem indicates. Nietzsche, for example, denies
      that intention is the cause of an event, and
      reverses Hume by extrapolating this denial of
      volition into a denial of the causal relation

      Critique of the concept "cause"... We have
      absolutely no experience of a cause; psychologically
      considered, we derive the entire concept from the
      subjective conviction that we are causes, namely,
      that the arm moves. But that is an error. We
      separate ourselves, the doers, from the deed, and we
      make use of this pattern everywhere--we seek a doer
      for every event. What is it we have done? We have
      misunderstood the feeling of strength, tension,
      resistance, a muscular


      feeling that is already the beginning of the act, as
      the cause, or we have taken the will to do this or
      that for a cause because the action follows upon

      In summa: an event is neither effected nor does
      it effect. Cause is a capacity to produce effects
      that has been super-added to the events--(44)
      ...Only because we have introduced subjects,
      "doers", into things does it appear that all events
      are the consequences of compulsion exerted upon
      subjects--exetted by whom? again by a "doer". Cause
      and effect--a dangerous concept as long as one
      thinks of something that causes and something upon
      which an effect is produced.

      ... When one has grasped that the "subject" is
      not something that creates effects, but only a
      fiction, much follows.

      It is only after the model of the subject that
      we have invented the reality of things and projected
      them into the medley of sensations. If we no longer
      believe in the effective subject, then belief also
      disappears in effective things, in reciprocation,
      cause and effect between those phenomena that we
      call things....(45)

      For Nietzsche, intention and the will in general
      are epiphenomena not amounting to the cause of an
      action. This denial of volition (by no means
      uncommon(46)) would seem to imply determinism, but
      the concept of nondual action suggests an
      alternative that escapes the usual dilemma of
      freedom or determinism. The classical statement of
      that problem is dualistic in presupposing a
      conscious subject whose actions either are
      completely determined by a causal chain (the
      strongest causal influence reaps effect) or are free
      from a causal chain (or, rather, free from complete
      determination, since totally uncaused, random choice
      does not seem to provide freedom in any meaningful
      sense). Both alternatives assume the existence of a
      conscious self distinct from its actions and
      existent outside the causal chain--although its
      actions may be totally determined by external
      causes. But if, as the nondualist maintains, there
      is no self, this does not imply complete
      determinism, for if there is no subject then there
      are also no "objective" causal factors. The
      deterministic view implies a self, helpless before
      causal influences which struggle among themselves to
      see which is strongest, rather like medieval knights
      competing to see who will win the hapless lady; but
      if there is no hapless consciousness here, the
      situation must be understood differently. If
      "liberty or freedom signifies properly the absence
      of opposition" (Hobbes(47)) then non-duality would
      seem rather to imply limitless freedom, since there
      is no "other" to be opposed. Elsewhere I have argued
      that the nondualist denial of self (as in Buddhism)
      is equivalent to asserting that there is only the
      Self (as in Vedaanta).(48) We would normally infer
      that the former implies complete determinism, the
      latter absolute freedom. However, if the universe is
      a whole (Brahman, Tao, Vij~naptimaatra, and so
      forth) and if, as Hua Yen Buddhism develops in its
      image of Indra's Net, each particular is not
      isolated but contains and manifests that whole, then
      whenever "I" act it is not "I" but the whole
      universe that "does" the action or rather is the
      action. If we accept that the universe is
      self-caused, then it acts freely whenever anything
      is done. Thus, from the nondualist perspective,
      complete determinism turns out to be equivalent to
      absolute freedom.(49)



      1. From "Burnt Norton, " in T. S. Eliot,
      Collected Poems 1909-1962 (London: Faber and Faber,
      1963), p. 191.

      2. This and the following passages from the
      Lao-tzu are from the translation by Chang
      Chung-yuan, in Tao: A New Way of Thinking (Harper
      and Row, 1975), with modifications by me; hereafter
      cited as Chang, Tao.

      3. Arthur Waley, The Way and Its Power (London:
      Alien and Unwin, 1968); hereafter cited as Waley,
      The Way. The definition given in Waley's translation
      of the Lun-yu is also not very illuminating:
      "wu-wei, the phrase applied by Taoists to the
      immobility of self-hypnosis" (The Analects of
      Confucius (London, 1936), p. 193).

      4. Roger T. Ames, "Wu-wei in 'The Art of
      Rulership' Chapter of Huai Nan Tzu," Philosophy East
      and West 31, no. 2 (April 1981): 196; hereafter
      cited as Ames, "Wu-wei."

      5. See ibid., pp. 196-198, and Herlee G. Creel,
      What Is Taoism?(Chicago, Illinois: University of
      Chicago Press, 1970), pp. 44-47; hereafter cited as
      Creel, Taoism.

      6. I have borrowed Ames' translation, "Wu-wei,"
      p. 194.

      7. Compare Ames, "Wu-wei," pp. 194, 197.

      8. Quoted in Creel, Taoism, p. 54.

      9. Fung Yu-lan, A Short History of Chinese
      Philosophy, p. 225, quoted by Creel, in Taoism, p.

      10. Waley's translation, in The Way.

      11. For example, see Wing-tsit Chan's
      translation in The Way of Lao Tzu(Bobbs-Merrill,
      1963, reprinted in A Source Book of Chinese
      Philosophy (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
      University Press, 1963), pp. 139-176, chapters 36,
      40, 52, 76, and 78.

      12. Creel, Taoism, quoting Lao-Tzu, shang. 2a
      (chap. 2).

      13. Ibid., quoting Duyvendak's Tao Te Ching,

      14. Ibid., quoting Fung's A Short History of
      Chinese Philosophy, pp. 100-101.

      15. Ibid., p. 53.

      16. "The important phrase, wu-wei, thus means
      "not-having willful action" (Sung-peng Hsu, "Lao
      Tzu's Conception of Evil," Philosophy East and West
      26, no. 3 (July 1976): 303).

      17. Ibid., p. 304: "it is important to note that
      'spontaneity' is really the positive name for the
      negative expression of wu-wei."

      18. Creel, Taosim, p. 74. Creel first argued for
      this view in "On Two Aspects in Early Taoism" (1954)
      and repeated his position in "On the Origin of
      Wu-wei" (1965). Both are reprinted in What Is

      19. Ibid., p. 45.

      20. Ibid., p. 46.

      21. Ibid,, p. 45.

      22. Ibid., p. 54.

      23. Fung Yu-lan, trans., Chuang Tzu, with
      commentary by Kuo Hsiang (New York: Gordon Press,
      1970), p. 40.

      24. Ibid., p. 117.

      25. Ibid., p. 125.

      26. Ibid., pp. 119-120, with emphasis by me.

      27. Burton Watson, trans., The Complete Works of
      Chuang Tzu (New York: Columbia University Press,
      1968), p. 83.

      28. See Chang Chung-yuan, Creativity and Taoism
      (New York: Julian Press, 1963), p.10.

      29. Chao Lun IV, 6:14b, quoted in Chang's Tao,
      p. 122.

      30. "When rest and no rest cease to be, then
      even oneness disappears" (From the translation in
      Philip Kapleau, Zen: Dawn in the West (New York:
      Anchor, 1980), see pp. 187-188).

      31. See the Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa, chap. 2.

      32. Radhakrishnan's translation, in
      Radhakrishnan and Moore, eds., Source Book in Indian
      Philosophy (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
      University Press, 1957), p. 117.

      33. Martin Buber, I and Thou, trans. Waiter
      Kaufmann, 2d ed. (Edinburgh: T. T. Clark, 1970), p.
      125. This page, which describes the I-Thou
      relationship as "at once... passive and active,"
      shows the ambivalence of Buber's approach. In order
      to maintain that "I-Thou" is a relationship, he must


      keep the relata distinct from each other and deny
      nonduality; but this passage, like many others,
      suggests nonduality.

      34. Edward Conze, trans. and ed., Selected
      Sayings from the Perfection of Wisdom (Boulder,
      Colorado: Prajna Press, 1978), p. 67.

      35. Mumonkan, case 20.

      36. Quoted in Chang Chung-yuan, Original
      Teachings of Ch'an Buddhism (New York: Vintage,
      1971), p. 130.

      37. Mumonkan, case 19.

      38. Koun Yamada, Gateless Gate (Los Angeles,
      California: Center Publications, 1979), p. 86.

      39. Ibid., p. 88.

      40. Cast 92 of The Blue Cliff Record, trans.
      Thomas Cleary and J. C. Cleary (Boulder, Colorado:
      Shambhala, 1977), p. 571. The experience of some
      Christian mystics led them to the same conclusion:

      When [Jakob] Boehme is speaking of God's life as it
      is in himself he refers to it as "play"... Adam
      ought to have been content to play with nature in
      Paradise [Mysterium Magnum 16:10]. Adam fell when
      this play became serious business, that is when
      nature was made an end instead of a means. (Howard
      H. Brinton, The Mystic Will (New York: Macmillan,
      1930), p. 218)

      Meister Eckhart:

      Do all you do, acting from the core of your soul,
      without a single "Why".... Thus, if you ask a
      genuine person, that Is, one who acts from his
      heart: "Why are you doing that?"--he will reply in
      the only possible way: "I do it because I do It!"
      [The just man] wants nothing, seeks nothing, and has
      no reason for doing anything. As God, having no
      motives, acts without them, so the just man acts
      without motives. As life lives on for its own sake,
      needing no reason for being, so the just man has no
      reason for doing what he does. (R. B. Blakney,
      trans., Meister Eckhart (New York: Harper and Row,
      1941), pp. 127, 241)

      41. Stuart Hampshire, Thought and Action
      (London: Chatto and Windus, 1960), p. 126.

      42. Ibid., p. 119.

      43. David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human
      Understanding, Section 7, Part 1.

      44. F. Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans.
      Waiter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale (New York:
      Vintage, 1968), no. 551, pp, 295-296. Nietzsche's

      45. Ibid., no. 552, pp. 297-298.

      46. "The greatest difficulty faced by every
      discussion of the Will is the simple fact that there
      is no other capacity of mind whose very existence
      has been so consistently doubted and refuted by so
      eminent a series of philosophers" (Hannah Arendt,
      The Life of the Mind(New York: Harcourt Brace
      Jovanovich, 1978), Vol. 2, p. 4).

      47. Leviathan II, 21.

      48. "Enlightenment in Buddhism and Advaita
      Vedanta: Are Nirvana and Moksha the Same? "
      International Philosophical Quarterly 22, no. 1
      (March 1982).

      49. This has important implications for such
      completely deterministic systems as Spinoza's.

      a ®z
    • michael
      Wordy! How many cups of caffeine do you fellows drink before you write this? Fukuoka s method was never intended for commercial agriculture, in the American
      Message 55 of 55 , Nov 18, 2003
        Wordy! How many cups of caffeine do you fellows drink before you write

        Fukuoka's 'method' was never intended for commercial agriculture, in
        the American use of the phrase.

        On Tuesday, November 18, 2003, at 04:56 AM, Larry Haftl wrote:

        > Hi Jamie,
        >> Hello Larry, I'm not quite sure how to respond to this email, a
        >> point-by-point rebuttal, silence or something else entirely. My
        >> problem is
        >> that I don't actually know what it is you're arguing against.
        > I didn't think I was arguing against anything in particular, so I went
        > back
        > and re-read several of the threads and I think I figured out what I
        > said
        > that is probably bothering you. It is my comments about Fukuoka
        > apparently
        > not being able to sustain the rice/barley yields he wrote about in his
        > books. If that is true then it can cast serious doubt on the
        > possibility of
        > using his method to develop commercially successful farms. Since you
        > are
        > personally heavily invested in trying to demonstrate that Fukuoka's
        > method
        > can be successful enough to replace current commercial agricultural
        > methods,
        > it is understandable that you find expressing such doubts in this forum
        > troublesome. Sorry about that, but all humans have doubts from time to
        > time,
        > even those who have never been formally exposed to Descartes,
        > Anglo-Saxon
        > culture, or Pragmatism. Doubt is something that happens to thinking
        > human
        > beings when, for instance, someone tells them something is going to
        > happen
        > and it doesn't happen time after time after time.
        >> the criteria of proof proved?). But it is this worldview that Fukuoka
        >> has
        >> always opposed as seeing such 'contrariness' as reducing the reality
        >> of
        > the
        >> world so as to gain control over it and our current ecological
        >> destruction
        >> the result of this reduction. Natural Agriculture is Fukuoka's
        >> expression
        > of
        >> acceptance, of not doubting the natural world - of seeing doubt not
        >> as the
        >> achievement of humankind but its weakness, even downfall. Every page
        >> of
        >> Fukuoka's 3 main books are steeped in this openness to experience, his
        >> 'green philosophy' has been gained not by shutting himself away for 3
        >> days
        >> to see what he could be sure of through deductive thinking as
        >> Descartes
        > did,
        >> but 40 years work in the fields slowly letting scientific and
        >> enculturated
        >> techniques go.
        > Fukuoka urged people to put doubts aside and try his method in order
        > to get
        > direct, first-hand experience with the power and abilities of natural
        > processes. I was and still am totally in favor of that. Openness to new
        > experiences is, to me, a very good thing. And so is not dismissing
        > something
        > because it failed to have desired results the first time I tried it.
        > Try to
        > figure out why it failed, make some adjustments, and try again. Sorry
        > if
        > this sounds like the scientific method at work, but it is, after all,
        > what
        > Fukuoka used himself and promotes.
        >> Why is it 'critical' that you question Jean-Claude's conception that
        >> 2%
        > only
        >> of farmers is 'madness' when this is exactly Fukuoka's viewpoint
        >> expressed
        >> throughout his work to get people to return to the land so that they
        >> can
        >> rebuild the relationships to the natural world he feels we have lost
        >> in
        > the
        >> technicity of scientific enquiry? My point is that we know that this
        >> is
        > how
        >> Fukuoka feels and that is why we're part of this group. What I really
        > don't
        >> understand is why you continue to be part of this group if you
        >> disagree
        > with
        >> such basic aspects of Fukuoka's ideas?
        > I didn't know that it was mandatory to absolutely, totally, and
        > unthinkingly
        > accept and believe in everything Fukuoka ever said or wrote in order to
        > participate in this group. The list's description said something about
        > discussing his ideas, not mindlessly repeating what he wrote or said. I
        > asked Jean-Claude why he thought it insane that only 2% of the
        > population
        > chose to be farmers because I wanted to hear his reasoning. Like
        > Fukuoka, I
        > think it would be nice if more people raised their own food, and even
        > nicer
        > if I could do so myself. But even if I disagreed with Fukuoka about
        > that, I
        > don't see such a disagreement as grounds for banishing from this forum
        > me or
        > anyone else. Do you? Are you saying that anyone who questions anything
        > Fukuoka has written or said should not be allowed to express his or her
        > thoughts, opinions, and experiences about what Fukuoka has written.
        >> Or, to try again: Why are you a member of the Fukuoka_Farming email
        >> discussion group? I used to know, last year when you built the
        >> website,
        > when
        >> we corresponded voluminously off-list, as you also did with Emilia,
        >> expressing your enthusiasm, your very real belief that Fukuoka
        >> expressed
        >> something tangible for your life, I could understand. But now you are
        >> 'contrary', deliberately so. I don't understand.
        > I am a member of this group because I get useful information from it. I
        > still have a lot of enthusiasm for what Fukuoka has written and said,
        > still
        > try to implement his methods as much as possible, and still enjoy
        > maintaining the website as a tool to help others find, understand, and
        > perhaps expand on what Fukuoka is all about. What I think you are
        > having a
        > hard time understanding or accepting is my doubts that Fukuoka's
        > methods can
        > be used exclusively in a commercial operation of any significant size
        > (arbitrarily more than several acres per person) with success. I think
        > there
        > is wisdom in his writings, but they are not, for me, absolute gospel
        > that I
        > have to absolutely and unquestioningly accept or be excommunicated
        > from the
        > group. If you are some day able to make a commercially successful go
        > of your
        > farm using only his methods they I will definitely sing your praises
        > and
        > rejoice with you. Doubting the effectiveness of his methods in
        > commercial
        > applications is not a deterrent to me as my goals are much more modest
        > than
        > yours. I simply want to understand how and why things grow and enjoy
        > the
        > learning process. And if I can get some goodies to eat along the way
        > then so
        > much the better. And who knows, maybe one day I'll be back on enough
        > land
        > that I can use his methods to completely feed myself, my family and
        > maybe a
        > few others and not have to rely on that dreaded scientific agriculture
        > for
        > actual survival as most of us now do.
        >> Fukuoka's message is that of Buddhism, Christian mystics and (Islamic)
        >> Sufism, humankind cannot know the natural world in totality,
        >> therefore we
        >> must stop trying to improve the world through the valorisation of our
        >> intellect, our ability to question and create laws by which we
        >> organise
        > the
        >> world, but rather, settle back and let ourselves slowly regain the
        >> rhythms
        >> of life that we have lost. We go nowhere, literally, with
        >> 'contrariness'
        > but
        >> with natural agriculture Fukuoka has offered a practical release from
        >> the
        >> ever decreasing circles of doubt.
        > It's much easier to "settle back and let ourselves slowly regain the
        > rhythms
        > of life that we have lost" if we have the land and/or resources to
        > feed,
        > clothe and house ourselves in a manner we find acceptable. You, me,
        > and many
        > of the people on this list (and even Fukuoka for that matter) can be
        > dilitante natural farmers and gardeners because we have a support
        > system
        > that will feed, clothe, and house us even if we are totally inept at
        > raising
        > food. We can follow his writings and personally benefit from them
        > regardless
        > of how much food we personally grow, and that process can, I believe,
        > open
        > us up to the natural world around us more effectively than many other
        > activities. To me, that's enough to be worth trying.
        >> What I have been trying to situate
        >> in this email, because I'm not quite sure how else to express it, is
        >> that
        >> you are not just wondering which of the crossroads to take but have
        >> turned
        >> around and retraced your footsteps and left that path altogther.
        > Hmmm.... still feels like I'm on the same path I was on when I first
        > encountered this list. Moved along it a bit, but still seems like the
        > same
        > path. Perhaps you are on a different one that doesn't give you a very
        > clear
        > view of the one I am on.
        >> Sometimes in our lives we can feel that what we do amounts to
        >> nothing, we learn our own helplessness. Sometimes there is a spark
        >> that
        >> lights a new enthusiasm. I'm part of this group because I want to be
        >> part
        > of
        >> a movement that produces a practical, temperate natural agriculture
        >> that
        >> will one day counter the current scientific agriculture of the West.
        > It appears that we are on different paths. I'm just trying to
        > understand how
        > and why things grow, trying to be in closer conscious contact with the
        > natural world around me. And maybe learn how to grow or gather as much
        > as I
        > eat. It's true I have doubts about Fukuoka's method being effective
        > enough
        > to permanently replace "current scientific agriculture" (a very
        > desireable
        > thing), but telling me it's wrong to express those doubts is pretty
        > much a
        > waste of time and bandwidth. Showing me that my doubts are unfounded by
        > turning Souscayrouse into a successful commercial venture would,
        > however,
        > definitely shut me up. And I'd be glad to help you in whatever way I
        > can to
        > do so. I think your grand goal is admirable. But then I think so is my
        > very
        > modest one.
        > Larry Haftl
        > larry@...
        > http://LarryHaftl.com
        > http://FukuokaFarmingOL.net
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